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when both the related ideas are fuggefted by the fame person, we have not a very fatisfactory proof of any thing uncommon in the intellectual habits of the author. We may fufpect that both ideas occurred to him at the fame time; and we know that in the dulleft and most phlegmatic minds, fuch extraordinary affociations will fome times take place. But when the fubject of the wit is furnished by one person, and the wit fuggefted by another, we have a proof, not only that the author's mind abounds with fuch fingular affociations, but that he has his wit perfectly at command.

As an additional confirmation of thefe obfervations, we may remark, that the more an author is limited by his fubject, the more we are pleased with his wit. And, therefore, the effect of wit does not arife folely from the unexpected relations which it prefents to the mind, but arifes, in part, from the furprise it excites at thofe intellectual habits which give it birth. It is evident, that the more the author is circumfcribed in the choice of his materials, the greater must be the command which he has ac quired over thofe affociating principles on which wit depends, and of confequence, according to the foregoing doctrine, the greater must be the furprise and the pleasure which his wit produces. In Addison's celebrated verses to Sir Godfrey Kneller on his picture of George the First, in which he compares the painter to Phidias, and the subjects of his pencil to the Grecian Deities, the range of the Poet's wit was neceffarily confined within very narrow bounds; and what principally delights us in that performance is, the furprising ease and felicity with which he runs the parallel between the English hiftory and the Greek mythology. Of all the allufions which the following paffage contains, there is not one, taken fingly, of very extraordinary merit; and yet the effect of the whole is uncommonly great, from the fin

gular power of combination, which fo long and fo difficult an exertion discovers.

“Wise Phidias thus, his skill to prove,
"Thro' many a god advanced to Jove,
"And taught the polish'd rocks to shine

With airs and lineaments divine,
"Till Greece amaz'd and half afraid,
"Th' assembled Deities survey'd.

"Great Pan, who wont to chase the fair,
"And lov'd the spreading oak, was there;
"Old Saturn, too, with up-cast eyes,
"Beheld his abdicated skies;
"And mighty Mars for war renown'd,
"In adamantine armour frown'd;
"By him the childless Goddess rose,
"Minerva, studious to compose
"Her twisted threads; the web she strung,
"And o'er a loom of marble hung ;
"Thetis, the troubled ocean's queen,
"Match'd with a mortal next was seen,
"Reclining on a funeral urn,

"Her short-liv'd darling son to mourn;
"The last was he whose thunder slew
"The Titan race, a rebel crew,
"That from a hundred hills ally'd,
"In impious league their King defy'd."

According to the view which I have given of the nature of Wit, the pleasure we derive from that af femblage of ideas which it prefents, is greatly heightened and enlivened by our furprise at the command displayed over a part of the conftitution, which, in our own cafe, we find to be fo little fubject to the will. We confider Wit as a fort of feat or trick of intellectual dexterity, analogous, in fome refpects, to the extraordinary performances of jugglers and ropedancers; and, in both cafes, the pleasure we receive from the exhibition, is explicable in part, (I, by no means, fay entirely) on the fame principles.

If these remarks be juft, it seems to follow as a confequence, that thofe men who are moft deficient in

the power of prompt combination, will be most poign antly affected by it, when exerted at the will of another and therefore, the charge of jealoufy and envy brought against rival Wits, when difpofed to look grave at each other's jefts, may perhaps be obviated in a way lefs injurious to their characters.

The fame remarks fuggeft a limitation, or rather an explanation, of an affertion of Lord Chesterfield's that "genuine wit never made any man laugh "fince the creation of the world." The obfervation, I believe, to be juft, if by genuine wit, we mean wit wholly divested of every mixture of humor and if by laughter we mean, that convulfive and noify agitation which is excited by the ludicrous. But there is unquestionably a fmile appropriated to the flashes of wit ;-a fimile of furprife and wonder; -not altogether unlike the effect produced on the mind and the countenance, by a feat of legerdemain when executed with uncommon fuccefs.

II. Of Rhyme.

THE pleasure we receive from rhyme, feems alfo to arife, partly, from our furprise at the cammand which the Poet must have acquired over the train of his ideas, in order to be able to exprefs himself with elegance, and the appearance of eafe, under the restraint which rhyme impofes. In witty or in humorous performances, this furprise ferves to enliven that which the wit or the humor produces, and renders its effects more fenfible. How flat do the liveliest and most ludicrous thoughts appear in biank verfe? And how wonderfully is the wit of Pope heightened, by the eafy and happy rhymes in which it is expreffed ?

It must not, however, be imagined, either in the case of wit or of rhyme,that the pleasure arifes folely from our furprife at the uncommon habits of affoci

In the

ation which the author discovers. In the former cafe, there must be presented to the mind, an unexpected analogy or relation between different ideas : and perhaps other circumstances muft concur to render the wit perfect. If the combination has no other merit than that of bringing together two ideas which never met before, we may be surprised at its oddity, but we do not confider it as a proof of wit. On the contrary, the want of any analogy or relation between the combined ideas, leads us to fufpect, that the one did not fuggeft the other, in confequence of any habits of affociation; but that the two were brought together by ftudy, or by mere accident. All that I affirm is, that when the analogy or relation is pleafing in itself, our pleasure is heightened by our surprise at the author's habits of affociation when compared with our own. cafe of Rhyme, too, there is undoubtedly a certain degree of pleasure arifing from the recurrence of the same found. We frequently obferve children amuse themfelves with repeating over fingle words which rhyme together: and the lower people, who derive little pleasure from poetry, excepting in fo far as it affects the ear, are so pleased with the echo of the rhymes, that when they read verses where it is not perfect, they are apt to fupply the Poet's defects, by violating the common rules of pronunciation. This pleasure, however, is heightened by our admiration of the miraculous powers which the poet must have acquired over the train of his ideas, and over all the various modes of expreffion which the language affords, in order to convey inftruction and entertainment, without tranfgreffing the establifhed laws of regular verfification. In fome of the lower kinds of poetry; for example, in acroftics, and in the lines which are adapted to bouts rimés, the merit lies entirely in this command of thought and expreffion; or, in other words, in a command of

ideas founded on extraordinary habits of affociation. Even fome authors of a fuperior clafs, occafionally fhew an inclination to difplay their knack at rhyming, by introducing, at the end of the firft line of a couplet, fome word to which the language hardly af fords a correfponding found. Swift, in his more trifling pieces, abounds with inftances of this; and in Hudibras, when the author ufes his double and tripple rhymes, many couplets have no merit whatever but what arifes from difficulty of execution.

The pleasure we receive from rhyme in ferious compofitions, arifes from a combination of different circumftances which my prefent fubject does not lead me to inveftigate particularly.* I am perfuaded, however, that it arifes, in part, from our furprise at the Poet's habits of affociation, which enable him to convey his thoughts with ease and beauty, notwithstanding the narrow limits within which his choice of expreffion is confined. One proof of this is, that if there appear any mark of constraint, either in the ideas or in the expreffion, our pleafure is proportionally diminished. The thoughts muft feem to fuggeft each other, and the rhymes to be only an accidental circumftance. The fame remark may

* In Elegiac poetry, the recurrence of the same sound, and the uniformity in the structure of the versification which this necessarily occasions, are peculiarly suited to the inactivity of the mind, and to the slow and equable succession of its ideas, when under the influence of tender or melancholy passions; and, accordingly, in such cases, even the Latin poets, though the genius of their language be very ill fitted for compositions in rhyme, occasionally indulge themselves in something very nearly approaching to it.

"Memnona si mater, mater ploravit Achillem,
"Et tangant magnas tristia fata Deas ;
"Flebilis indignos Elegcia solve capillos,
"Ah nimis ex vero nunc tibi nomen erit."

Many other instances of the same kind might be produced from the Elegiac verses of Ovid and Tibullus.

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